Some good stats today on two mobile marketing channels: QR codes and mobile apps. They caught my eye not just for the information that they shared, but because of the conclusions that the authors drew. Let’s take a look:

QR Codes:

eMarketer released stats on QR codes, their recognizability and why consumers are scanning them. The first, entitled “U.S. Internet Users’ Familiarity With QR Codes, October 2011,” breaks down a key difference between how consumers perceive QR Codes:

Percentage of consumers that have heard of QR codes:

Percentage of consumers that can identify a QR code when shown one:

I think what’s clear is that the term “QR Codes” might not be the most understandable thing in the world for consumers, but the opposite holds true for QR codes themselves. Can think of tons of parallels here, but for some reason the old “your epidermis is showing” joke comes to mind.

The eMarketer study goes on to list a number of impressive QR code stats, including:

  • 90% of the top 100 magazines have featured at least one mobile barcode since May 2011, compared to 9% in November of 2010.
  • Presently 5% of magazine ad pages have a 2D Bar Code
  • This widespread magazine use “doesn’t even touch presence of QR codes on outdoor advertising, in-store signage and packaging, or business cards.”

The last figure from eMarketer breaks down the reasons U.S. Smartphone users have scanned QR codes as of October 2011:

One point to note before reading too much into this stat: it’s misleading. Two reasons why: (1) consumers can only scan QR codes that are promoted in a specific way and (2) the overwhelming majority of QR codes link to get more information (see the for some examples). Thus, of course more people scan QR codes to get more information. That’s why I like the conclusion of the eMarketer article: “But as awareness develops, the novelty factor may be in danger of wearing off. Marketers will have to prove there is valuable information in store for QR code scanners—perhaps a coupon or exclusive content—or those who scan a few times out of curiosity may not develop a scanning habit.” That, folks, summarizes moving “beyond the Novelty of the New.”

Mobile Apps:

Apps are all the rage these days as marketers love the beautiful rich media experience they offer. However, marketers need to carefully evaluate their app strategy. According to data from Mashable, consumers don’t like shopping via branded apps:

As the study says, “consumers show a greater preference — by up to 20 times — for browsing the Web to shop rather than using branded apps.” I find this data interesting in that it proves something that I intuitively assumed, though this is the first time I have seen data around this “gut feeling.”

Bottom line: brands need to find ways to connect consumers to websites and mobile sites for commerce reasons, giving credence to the assertion that an effective SMS, mobile web, and mobile app strategy requires a cross-channel CRM approach. Not an over-reliance on one channel vs. the other.

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5 Responses to QR Codes and Mobile Apps

  1. Regarding the mobile application stat, this definitely makes sense and I have a feeling the gap is broadening. While mobile apps are all the rage right now, the vast majority of them are needless substitution for what should be a mobile landing page for the main website of the company.

    With new technologies in web development (HTML5, JavaScript mobile frameworks like PhoneGap, etc.), mobile websites are far more than just landing pages. They look and function much more like a full blown mobile app with typical phone functionality you’d expect (camera, GPS, accelerated graphics, etc.).

  2. Small correction, PhoneGap allows for mobile web application development using HTML5/CSS3/Javascript true, but it still creates native mobile applications on the various smart phone operating systems (iOS, Android, etc). However, other frameworks exist, like Sencha Touch which create true mobile websites with advanced interactions we come to expect from mobile applications.

  3. Quora says:

    What are the most successful branded apps?…

    From what I have heard, Amazon has done really well with its branded app. The reason in my opinion? Amazon’s app is well integrated with its other digital identities. As I touch on in this blog post:

  4. KaneRussell says:

    Here’s some new stats (Feb 2012) on QR codes:

    Among some of the highlights: 
    - 40% of 2-D barcodes take users to general commerce and product information online
    - 23% lead customers to brand-building sites. 
    - 13% pair video with mobile barcodes 
    - 22% of all US mobile barcodes appeared in retail advertising
    - 13% featured in technology ads. 
    - 7% of 2-D barcodes appeared in financial services ads
    - Open-source QR code remains the advertising industry standard with almost 90% market penetration

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